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  #1  
Old 08-29-03, 11:39 AM
InattentiveType InattentiveType is offline
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Caffeine vs Rx Stimulants

I've been reading some of Dr. Amen's books. He constantly harps on Caffeine and how bad it is.

Caffeine is said to make blood vessels constrict.

According the majority of the info I've been reading on the web Caffeine is compared to Amphetamines in the way it works. This article @ howstuffworks mentions that as well.
http://www.howstuffworks.com/caffeine.htm
Here's some of the highlights:
Quote:
To a nerve cell, caffeine looks like adenosine. Caffeine therefore binds to the adenosine receptor. However, it doesn't slow down the cell's activity like adenosine would. So the cell cannot "see" adenosine anymore because caffeine is taking up all the receptors adenosine binds to. So instead of slowing down because of the adenosine level, the cells speed up. You can see that caffeine also causes the brain's blood vessels to constrict, because it blocks adenosine's ability to open them up.
Quote:
Caffeine also increases dopamine levels in the same way that amphetamines do (heroine and cocaine also manipulate dopamine levels by slowing down the rate of dopamine re-uptake).
So my question is this: Do the stimulants prescribed for ADD only effect dopamine & not cause blood vessel constriction via the adenosine mechanism like Caffeine does?
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Old 08-29-03, 01:27 PM
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Inattentive: In my opinion: you have asked an EXTREMELY good and intelligent question...and I took the liberty of e-mailing a professor I had at school.....a dietitian and he taught a lot of biochemistry, organic chemistry, advanced human metabolism, etc.

His reponse was basically that ADD meds promote neutrotransmitter activity (are agonists) while inhibit their degradation.....one neutrotransmittor being dopamine such as that targeted with Ritalin. He said that caffeine does indeed cause blood vessell constriction to some but not all blood vessells...and that stimulants (just as with caffeine) prescribed for ADD may actually cause blood vessel constriction....they MAY, yes....The meds affect dopamine yes, AND at the same time may cause blood vessel constriction....

which is why when contraindications issues are mentioned, it often says tell your doctor if you have any heart problems, i.e. hypertension (or prior strokes) before taking this med....because if you have any heart problems -- you don't want any blood vessel constriction going on as a result of taking ADD meds.....and the greater the dosage, the more likelihood the blood vessel constriction....so again, increasing dosage on your own not a great idea....for some......

So ADD meds are clearly not without hazards....

And Dr. Amen is right...too much coffee is not good....

Anyone else have any knowledge on this subject?
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Last edited by joanrdtobe; 08-29-03 at 01:36 PM..
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Old 08-29-03, 02:05 PM
waywardclam waywardclam is offline
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Only the personal experience of how caffeine and the foods it comes in have wrecked time periods in my life...

Not ADD specific...

Apparently a higher percentage of ADDers use caffeine, same as any other drug, in attempts to self medicate unconsciously or consciously...
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Old 08-29-03, 02:47 PM
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I'm curious because Dr. Amen basically makes the equation:

Blood vessel constriction from caffeine = Bad.

If Rx Stimulants do the same thing, then what difference does it make? They would be just as "bad".

I'm sure it varies from drug to drug, but I would think that most do not have the same effect on blood vessels.

And yes caffeine is a problem for me (self-medicating). I usually drink 6 cups in the morning. I gave up Sodas a couple of years ago, so I no longer get additional Caffeine throughout the day though.

One thing I've noticed is that when I was on 36 mg Concerta my Coffee cravings were significantly reduced. Now I'm on 10 mg doses of Adderall. I'm back to drinking tons of Coffee. I think that's a sign I need a higher dose of Adderall, at least in the morning.
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Old 08-29-03, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by InattentiveType
I'm curious because Dr. Amen basically makes the equation:

Blood vessel constriction from caffeine = Bad.

If Rx Stimulants do the same thing, then what difference does it make? They would be just as "bad".

I'm sure it varies from drug to drug, but I would think that most do not have the same effect on blood vessels.



One thing I've noticed is that when I was on 36 mg Concerta my Coffee cravings were significantly reduced. Now I'm on 10 mg doses of Adderall. I'm back to drinking tons of Coffee. I think that's a sign I need a higher dose of Adderall, at least in the morning.

Inattentive: It does vary from drug to drug (effect on blood vessels that is) and some meds don't have any effect at all on blood vessels and some have a lot of affect...and the other issue is the DEGREE of blood vessel constriction.....SOME constriction is okay...(you actually DO want some)....but lots of constriction is not good...or blood flow is compromised and heck you can die from a blood clot....

And yes some meds may be "just as bad" as caffeine.....but for some people vessel constriction is not a problem....they can handle it while "enjoying" the benefits of the med. That is if they have no heart problems....

For others, i.e. those with heart disease, these meds ARE just as bad as caffeine and should be taken in low doses or not at all....OR a non-stimulant med should be considered....

P.S. When I started on ADD meds, my desire for coffee went out the window....and I was a junkie.....hazelnut....yum....but no longer....who knows, it may be the body's way of telling us that our blood vessels can only take so much constriction....
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Last edited by joanrdtobe; 08-29-03 at 03:08 PM..
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Old 08-29-03, 08:45 PM
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Innatentive, try looking at it differently.

Caffeine is a substance, just as a medication is a substance. With caffeine, you get Dopamine increase as well as blood vessel constriction. With Ritalon you get a more targetted Dopamine increase with less blood vessel constriction.

The aim of the meds is the increase in effectiveness of the Dopamine transport system. If they could produce non constriction ritalion, they would do so tomorrow. The challenge with meds is to understand what it is trying to do, as well as understanding what other effect it will have.

Constricting blood vessels is not the aim of either meds of caffeine; it's just one of the effects on the body.

so back to your original question; The meds try and increase Dopamine with the lowest amount of side-effects possible. The difficulty is that the human body determines what will be affected, not the drug companies. The less side effects, the more successful the drugs, the more money they make. If they could make less effects they would.

Caffeine is bad also in the sense that people don't realise that is effectively another medication they are taking. Our stomachs dont have eyes, and can't tll whether what we have fed it was a prescription coumpound, or a latte from the corner shop. It just digests it all, and distributes the chemicals to different parts of our bodies.

Depending on what each persons system needs in particular will decide whether normal meds, caffeine, meds & caffeine, of another combo helps them meet their "objectives". Caffeine is easy as you can self prescibe it. Other meds we look at different as if the doctor has some sort of magic wand that makes our system worship the pills as if they work better.

If you want something really scarry, read the ingreadients of packed food. Many ingedients are chemical additives; which is really all a medication is. A Medication is a chemical combination, that will have some sort of effect. Food colouring and Flavour enhancers??? The colouring tricks the eye into thinking that rasberry jam has rasberries, and the flavouring tricks the tastebuds into agreeing. the stomach??..it just sees the MSG(flavour enhancer) as a chemical which sends a message to the brain to say...yumm, tastes good, eat more of it!!.

At the end of the day, it comes down to understanding the possible benefits, the possible side effects, and determining if the benefit outwweighs the side effects. If it might work, try it, if it doesn't work, give it up. It the risk is too high, don't try it at all.

There are plenty of Meds I class as too high risk to ever try. There are other's I believe the risk profile for me is OK and have tried them. I have ended up with nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps and headaches from trying. I gave up the ones that didn't give the a significant benefit.

Lastly, I gave up my huge 20 year caffeine habit about a month ago. I'm now on decaf and I have definately noticed the difference. Why?, because I now view the risk profile of caffeine greater than it's benefit profile. do I want an alternative...Yep!! I gotta stop this yawning!!

No smoking, no drinking, no caffeine...geez, i'm the life of the party!!..OK, I can drink when I choose, I just rarely ever choose.
My choice for self medication are nootrpics. They work for me.

I hope I didn't get too lost from the topic, I just look at things like meds as just another item the body consumes, just like food, just like chemicals. Understand the substance, guage it's effect, know the end results.

Sleepz.
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Old 09-05-03, 12:15 PM
amiegrace amiegrace is offline
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This is a timely question for me!

I'm on meds and was a coffee junkie. Having quit a 2 pack daily cigarette habit several years ago (God's intervention big time), I realized how much I do NOT like being addicted to anything. But coffee . . . beloved coffee . . . caffeine! I never drank decaf -- it just made me mad.

The other thing about caffeine is that it dehydrates you -- which is great if you are bloated, but I'm under the impression that diuretics work by blocking some mineral synthesis in your body, and blocking absorption of those on a regular basis isn't good. Water depletion is terrible for mood and concentration, and I never remember to pump up on the water enough to prevent dehydration.

So I fasted for a couple of days and got the coffee out of my system (note, I feel a thousand times better when I don't eat -- food sensitivities, I guess). I had a killer headache, way killer, so I took Goody's powder every day to give me just enough to eke through (it has like 1/10th the caffeine of one cup of coffee).

I was irritable, but paradoxically, ADD helped me forget about coffee altogether. I feel MUCH more calm. And my irritability has almost vanished. I am the inattentive type ADD, so I have had to push myself even more to do anything except what I love to do (read, mostly, and research on the Net). And it feels so good to not have anything (except books, perhaps) addictive in my life -- the freedom is tremendous.

Plus, I don't know if this is connected at all, but my appetite has decreased a lot since I quit.

If you're thinking of quitting, give it a try!
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Old 09-05-03, 12:39 PM
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Amiegrace, welcome to the forums

Congratulations on the quitting!!! It is an amazingly difficult process so well done.

Innatentives giving up caffeine sometimes notice they have even less of what is already a limited amount of motivational energy. I gave up caffeine and had the headaches as well. I'm on decaf but have yet to solve the motivation drop.

The headache is a killer, but it is worth it to be free.

I can't comment on the diuretics and how they work. Sounds interesting though.

Sleepz.
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Old 09-18-03, 09:02 AM
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I'd like to welcome you too, Amiegrace. I have really enjoyed reading this thread - thanks all of you for your contributions. It was a search for information on caffeine that originally brought me to the addforums and I thought I'd seen all the comparing notes on this theme (caffeine), till I spotted this thread just now.

Somehow I can't seem to live with caffeine, nor without it. When I was still smoking, caffeine didn't seem to present the problems it does now, or not nearly as much. I think ever since giving up smoking, I tend to drink more tea and coffee to compensate, but this only partially works and I often end up jittery as a result, or burnt-out by early evening, after a day of caffeine 'abuse' - and I suspect I am permanently slightly dehydrated.

Incidentally, I gave Wellbutrin a try and found the effect to be exactly like the background effect of smoking. I can understand how it gets prescribed as an aid to giving up. I have stopped now, for the time being, as I had ordered it over the internet (without any prescription or medical advice), and I am going to see a doctor soon, who I suppose will prefer and expect me not to already be 'self-medicating' (except with tea/coffee, which is only to be expected). ...

But thanks for the encouraging words. If people like me (I'm convinced you are) can cut caffeine out and enjoy the benefits, then maybe I can.
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Old 09-18-03, 09:52 AM
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Old 09-19-03, 10:24 AM
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I KNOW that I self-medicate with coffee and I don't have a problem with that. I take no other ADD related medicince, although I do take an herbal called St. John's Wort. It is an alternative to Prozac which I used to take for several years for depression. I did not like how I felt when on Prozac so read up on St. John's Wort which does the same thing, essentially.

"Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have coffee..." -- J. S. Bach
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Old 05-29-06, 08:16 PM
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Does anyone feel that when they take ritalin it makes you crave coffee more? I do, but I'm worried that mixing the 2 is dangerous....any feedback would be great!
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Old 05-29-06, 09:30 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

A number of ADDers find that on stimulent medication they crave less coffee, but then we're all pretty unique in our responses. According to Hallowell and Ratey in Delivered from Distraction, caffeine helps in the short term, but hurts in the long term with ADD cognitive functioning by reducing the blood flow to the brain. Since our brains already get 8 - 15 % less glucose than average that is not good! Ritalin and other stimulent medications are more focused and effect less neurotransmitters than caffeine -- hopefully just the ones you need to be effected!

I still drink a little caffeine , but not the 5 cups a day I used to. Hey no one is perfect! Moderation in everything I say!

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Old 05-30-06, 03:05 AM
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My doctor mentioned that self-medication with lots of caffeine is very common among untreated ADDers, as he gestured toward the cup of coffee I had in my hand.

My understanding is that caffeine is similar to the other stimulant drugs, but its effects are far more physical than mental. So you could potentially take enough caffeine to get the same kind of mental stimulation that amphetamines provide. However by that point you'd be too busy vomiting, shaking, and feeling like your heart was about to explode to really notice the positive effects.

I used to drink 6-12 cups of coffee per day when I was untreated. Now I only drink coffee for the taste, and can't handle more than 2-3 cups/day without getting sick.
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